Rule ties food stamp systems
- By Colleen O'Hara
- Aug 21, 2000
The Agriculture Department's Food and Nutrition Service has issued an interim
rule to ensure that food stamp recipients can use their electronic food
stamp benefits across state borders.
The interim rule published in the Federal Register on Aug. 15 implements
legislation passed in February that requires nationwide interoperability
of electronic benefit transfer (EBT) systems used to deliver food stamps.
The rule establishes uniform standards that states must follow in order
to achieve interoperability by October 2002. The standards are based on
Quest, which are operating rules that more than 25 states follow. But there
are many state EBT systems that do not interoperate, leading to widespread
The federal government plans to fund the operational costs necessary
to make the state systems interoperate, but only up to a national annual
limit of $500,000. Costs beyond this amount will be covered at 50 percent.
Last year, a study sponsored by the National Automated Clearing House
Association, which represents 13,000 financial institutions, found that
it would cost about $500,000 per year to cover the fees associated with
processing electronic food stamp transactions among EBT networks operated
in different states.
The Food and Nutrition Service is accepting comments on the rule through